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Kenny Barron: The Traveler

A rather unlikely group of musicians tag along with Kenny Barron on The Traveler, making the pianist’s latest studio excursion all the more colorful and, at times, intriguing.

Guests include three vocalists with markedly different styles-Ann Hampton Callaway, Grady Tate, Gretchen Parlato-and when the focus is on their contributions, the performances are dreamy, urbane and haunting by turns. Parlato’s appearance on the aptly titled “Phantoms” (music by Barron, lyrics by Janice Jarrett) is particularly enjoyable, perfectly in sync with an otherworldly arrangement that features guitarist Lionel Loueke. It’s one of three tunes on the album that takes advantage of Loueke’s unique blend of dexterity and imagination. His most adventurous turn comes on “Duet,” a rhythmically kinetic and often freely improvised pairing of acoustic guitar and piano.

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